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White House backs Secret Service director amid growing scandal

April 17, 2012|By Morgan Little and Kathleen Hennessey
  • A photo shows a logo on a folder from the Hotel Caribe. US Secret Service agents accused of misconduct had reportedly stayed at the Hotel Caribe before being set back to the U.S.
A photo shows a logo on a folder from the Hotel Caribe. US Secret Service agents… (Mandel Ngan / AFP/Getty…)

WASHINGTON — The scope of the Secret Service’s prostitution scandal has grown, with allegations that “20 or 21 women foreign nationals were brought to the hotel,” according to Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine).

Collins, who was briefed by Mark Sullivan, director of the Secret Service, on Monday, listed a series of questions she presented to Sullivan, including whether there had been “any evidence of previous misconduct by these or any other agents on other missions,” whether the allegations “indicate a problem with the culture of the Secret Service” and whether the women “had been members of groups hostile to the United States.”

“I am fully confident that he [Sullivan] will fully investigate these troubling issues as well as pursue appropriate action against the agents should the allegations prove true,” she concluded. Collins is the ranking Republican on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

After speaking in the White House Rose Garden on Tuesday morning, President Obama ignored a shouted question on whether he thought Sullivan should resign. White House Spokesman Jay Carney told reporters later, "The president has confidence in the director of the Secret Service."

Carney repeated that Obama planned to wait until the completion of the investigation before taking any action.

Beyond outrage coming from politicians and citizens, the nation’s top military leadership has expressed frustration and disappointment in the additional alleged misconduct committed by at least 10 military service members prior to President Obama’s stop at the Summit of the Americas in Colombia.

“We let the boss down, because nobody's talking about what went on in Colombia other than this incident,” Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said at a news conference Monday. “I can speak for myself and my fellow chiefs: We're embarrassed by what occurred in Colombia, though we're not sure exactly what it is.”

“Whether these individuals were in Colombia or any country or in the United States, we expect them to abide by highest standard of behavior. And that's a requirement,” Defense Secretary Leon Panetta added.

Panetta and Dempsey’s remarks came in response to Monday’s announcement that 10 U.S. military members were under investigation by the Pentagon for their alleged role in hiring prostitutes and other instances of misconduct. The breakdown of those under investigation includes five Special Forces Army soldiers, two Marines, two members of the Navy and one member of the Air Force. The 11 accused Secret Service agents have had their security clearances revoked, and have been since placed on administrative leave.

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Orginal source: White House backs Secret Service director amid growing scandal

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